“But why did you approve my leave application?” I asked miffed. Mr A, my boss, normally rejects my leave application twice, and only allows the third one, and that too after I throw a tantrum. So when I received the sanction on my second attempt, it threw my plans for a holiday next month totally out of gear. I had a suspicion he had seen through my game-plan.
“What do you mean? You applied, didn’t you?” he glared.
“And since when have you started sanctioning leave on demand,” I fired back, not realizing that I was sounding crazy. “I have to go next month, and I will reapply.”
“Next month we have a conference coming up, so we will have to see. You can get this one cancelled if you want,” he shot back.
I knew I had pushed myself into a corner. A confrontation with the better half loomed at the horizon, along with some harsh exchanges with the travel agent. I moped for the next few days, keeping the sad turn of events to myself, even as ‘she-who-must-not-be-disobeyed’ went headlong into the preparations (purchase of dresses and cosmetics).
Mr A had been keeping an eye on me, and this I realized when one day he asked, “What’s up David? Looking a little preoccupied.” I kept quiet.
“The conference next month will be great exposure for you – all the top honchos are coming’” he said, in an obvious bid to reopen the conversation regarding my leave.
“If I survive telling my wife,” I said, resigned to a fate worse than death.
“So why did you commit without talking to me first?” he asked a valid question.
“In a job you are never a master of your life,” I grumbled with an unusual harshness.
This must have stung, for Mr A kept quiet for some time, and then in a thoughtful manner said, “There are always three options in life. To be satisfied, and remain approximately where you are, to move up in life, or to have a devil-may-care attitude and play life on a day-to-day basis.”
“And you are of which personality type?” I asked just to irritate him.
“Ah, that is a tough one,” he said. Which obviously implied he thought he was the ‘get-ahead-in-life’ type. This bugged me even more.
“Success or failure is not in anybody’s hands, but some people stake their all to move ahead, some stake nothing and thus remain where they are, and some are too busy enjoying life to understand the stakes,” he said, taking the holier-than-thou attitude.
“But what has all this got to do with my leave,” I short-circuited the conversation.
“Your leave? You implied something about having your own company.”
I realized my slip too late, but he continued, “The ambitious are restless. They may want to move up in an organization, join politics, open one’s own company, or amass wealth – whatever. So when you speak lightly about independence, you have to ask yourself, do have the necessary traits,” he admonished.
He implied I was one of the other two types. Curious to know where he had slotted me, I asked, “And I am which type?”
“You don’t enjoy life, and you don’t rock the boat, so you are the conservative type,” he said giving my ‘type’ a respectable name.
“But the types can change,” I threatened.
“Normally they don’t,” he said, complacent. “Only some shock or great provocation changes a person.”
I wanted to say that the matter of my leave was a grave enough provocation, but even I agreed with the assessment.
“So the conservatives are doomed,” I said.
“All of us are doomed,” he laughed. “The ambitious have the worst time. Their life is spent on chasing goals and being hungry. Most of them come to know that chasing dreams is the only destination for them, for they are not satisfied with anything they get.”
I did not find it worthwhile to drag the conversation further into his half-baked theories, so I just shrugged and let it go.
The news of a cancelled trip had to be broken at home, and this I did the next weekend. The consequences had to be borne, and this was done with the dignity and manliness required on such occasions. In other words, I stonewalled a lot of slander with a sullen face. I was told by the better half that I was a coward, that I could not be expected to stand up to my rights, that I was a loser and that she had done a big blunder in life and so on.
The conference went off well, and life moved on. But the conversation with boss, left incomplete, preyed on my mind. So one day, in one my more bitter moods, I asked him ‘the’ question – “The other day you were talking of the three personality types. Which one is the best, according to you?”
He must have thought about this obvious question, and was ready with his reply. “The best one for you is the one that suits you,” he gave his verdict. I could see there was merit in his reply, and I kept my peace.